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How McDonald's Wins in Social: Ranking at Number One

The restaurant industry is fully immersed in social. Everyone from your favorite fast food chain to the neighborhood diner is using social media to advertise products and connect with fans. But is everyone succeeding?

We at Sprinklr decided to investigate which restaurants are winning in social and which ones have room for strategic improvement, using data harvested from our Social Business Index. We crunched the numbers and ranked the top 25 performing brands across multiple metrics. To see the full rankings and dive deeper into the insights, check out our full report.

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Across seven key metrics (engagement, earned impressions, impressions, active audience, active participants, followers, brand posts), McDonalds clearly takes the top spot.


McDonald’s large audience definitely plays a role in their success, with almost 70 million followers across all countries, regions, and platforms - a 31 percent greater audience than incumbent Starbucks. With 7,748 brand posts in 30 days, an active audience of 1.4 million, and 104.8 million impressions, McDonald’s’ uses their enormous following as an amplifier for their social media activities.

While important, a large audience alone isn’t enough to guarantee a strong social media presence. McDonalds uses many other tactics and strategies to ensure their social activity is mature and engaging.

1. Listening to Stay on Trend

McDonald’s uses their social accounts to advertise new products, promote sweepstakes, and report on community engagement. These campaigns and initiatives are timely and relevant, capitalizing on the speedy nature of social to stay involved in their customer’s conversation.

For example, as consumers become more health conscious and trends shift towards more nutritional food, McDonalds uses social to stay competitive and position their brand as a healthy, all natural choice for the whole family. After recognizing this trend, the chain increased healthier menu options such as salads and wraps and provided more accessible nutritional information. These timely actions allow the chain to compete with more customizable Limited Service Restaurants such as Panera and Chipotle.

2. Remaining Authentic and Transparent

Transparency is key to any successful social media strategy and McDonalds makes honesty a major priority in their social communications. After learning the hard way from PR crises and cover ups such as the “pink slime” controversy, the fast food chain now strives to be open and honest about all of their operations.

Currently, McDonald’s is running a Q&A campaing encouraging consumers to ask questions about their ingredients, products and, food preparation. These questions are answered both on social and through a video series that shows the entire story behind their operations. The brand acknowledges consumer concerns about the quality of their products and is working to set the record straight.

3. Personal social engagement

For a large brand, McDonald’s strives to make their social channels feel personal and friendly. Customer service personnel respond to comments and tweets, both positive and negative, in a patient and cheerful manner. Using listening to pick up on keywords, the fast food brand jumps in on conversations, often to the delight of the user.

Frequently, individuals will comment questioning the legitimacy of McDonald’s food and ingredients. In this case, account admins respond quickly, providing ingredient information and links to the website in order to stop rumors in their tracks. Similarly, when a customer has a complaint about an experience, representatives ask for the store and employee name in order to deal with the problem directly. As a global brand, McDonald’s faces many challenges with customers on a daily basis. Using the power of social, customer service personnel are able to address and help as many customers as possible and improve their experience with the brand.

4. Quality content

McDonalds uses their social networks to promote various types of content. Using Sprinklr’s Social Business Index tool, we are able to easily examine McDonald’s top-performing content pieces.

Of these, we noticed a couple trends

  • Successful posts often focused on the consumer’s experience. McDonald’s strives to associate its food with positive moments such as having a morning coffee. These highly relatable campaigns foster a bond with the consumer on an emotional level. Post by McDonald's.

  • Specific campaigns, such as the Q&A campaign, also result in successful posts. These daily visual posts promote initiatives by staying on the forefront of the consumer’s mind and creating social buzz across all channels. Post by McDonald's.

  • Many of the highest performing pieces were not in English. This is a reflection on the global nature of the McDonald’s brand and the importance of having personnel and community engagement software that understand local dialects and culture. Post by McDonald's.

Overall, McDonalds uses their social accounts on both a large scale, growing brand equity, and a smaller scale, tending to specific and local customers. When both methods are used in tandem, the result is a successful and robust social strategy.

As seen by the case of McDonald’s, social can be a powerful tool for the restaurant industry brand and beyond. Download the full report to see the Top 25 restaurant brands in social and dive deeper into the data.

Photo Credit: McDonalds Social/shutterstock

Join The Conversation

  • Dec 2 Posted 2 years ago Keith Hawn

    "Across seven key metrics (engagement, earned impressions, impressions, active audience, active participants, followers, brand posts), McDonalds clearly takes the top spot."

    And yet its same-store sales in the US continue to decline every quarter.

    And there is your "social media ROI" lesson for today...

  • rsj8000's picture
    Nov 25 Posted 2 years ago rsj8000

    I'd argue that this assesment ot winning at social. McDonald's does get plenty of interaction, but it's overwhelmingly negative. I did a posta bout this recently, looking at how McD's unfortnately-structured posts show that they are pretty unaware of how modern marketing works: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/2-bad-facebook-posts-and-2-good-ones

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